When I was a boy growing up in France, a roast chicken used to be a really special treat; nowadays, we all eat chicken multiple times a week, so it's not the rarity it once was. You would think that might make everyone an expert at cooking chicken, but I'm sad to see so many times that the end result is a dry, tough bird. This recipe will teach you my secret for ensuring that your roast chicken remains juicy and tender. The key is the resting process, during which the bird will continue to cook to the perfect temperature. This is so much better than leaving it in the oven until it is cooked to perfection, but then, within 20 mins, it is dry and horrible.
Chicken, free-range/organic, wings chopped into 1cm pieces
Butter, unsalted, softened
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 230°C.
In the base of a roasting pan, scatter the chopped wing bones and place the chicken in the centre.
With a pastry brush, brush the butter evenly over the chicken and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Roast the chicken in the preheated oven for 20 minutes to gain some colour.
Baste, then turn the oven temperature down to 150°C and roast for a further 20-25 minutes with further occasional basting.
Basting is a term that refers to pouring the hot cooking fat and juices over the roasting meat as it cooks. This accomplishes three things; it prevents the meat from drying out, it assists with the even browning through the coating of fat, which is a good conductor of heat, and it also coats the meat being roasted with any juices omitted during the roast, which creates a fabulous crust.
The chicken should be golden brown all over. Pierce the thigh; the juices should run clear.
Remove the chicken to a serving tray and return it to the oven.
Turn off the oven, leave the door ajar and leave the chicken to rest for another 15 minutes before carving.
Meanwhile, drain any excess fat from the roasting tray, place it on the hob on high heat, pour in the water, and scrape off any caramelised juices stuck to the bottom of the pan.
Pour the liquid and chopped chicken wings into a small pan and simmer for 10 minutes, removing excess fat if necessary.
Strain, then taste and adjust seasoning if required.
If more body is required, thicken the jus with ¼ tsp arrowroot, cornflour or potato starch dissolved in 15ml of cold water.
"Make sure you take your chicken out of the fridge 1 hour before cooking."
"Go out of your way to find a good chicken, preferably organic, and witness the result."
"It may be tempting to bring your chicken to the table immediately, but the resting time allows the juices, which are pushed to the outside of the meat during the cooking, to redistribute themselves throughout the flesh, which will provide a more succulent eating experience. You will find it easier to carve as well.